More than 20,000 public students registered for virtual education platform

More than 20,000 public students registered for virtual education platform
Jeffery L. Lloyd, Minister of Education, Southbeach MP (Keval Williams/EWN)

But some students don’t have access to internet or devices for Virtual Learning Program

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd indicated yesterday that they are still unaware how many students don’t have access to its Virtual Learning Education due to lack of devices or access to services.

Lloyds comments came as he contributed to the debate on a resolution to extend the government’s state of emergency and emergency orders amidst the global spread of the coronavirus.

As of Sunday, 21,537 students had registered, he said. 

Lloyd advised some 15 students in Barbados have been evacuated from the country over the weekend.

The Education minister also said some 60 students were brought home from Jamaica and Barbados last week.

He noted that students had been “duly warned” in advance that their campuses would be closing and only virtual classes would be continuing.

We are aware that some students do not have access to the internet or devices and we are exploring ways to reduce or eliminate these access to education issues,” he said.

He noted that the ministry is working with the country’s communications providers to see how best to provide devices and services to those students who may be disadvantaged.

He also advised that government is seeking to find dedicated TV channels for delivery of content to students.

The matter is expected to be discussed in Cabinet today.

Lloyd said while there are no concrete numbers for students who may be without access to the platform, there are currently 4,300 students on the government’s lunch program who may fall in this category.

“We can presume they do not access to services and devices, so we are going start with the provision of services for those,” he said.

All schools were closed on March 16 in efforts to mitigate the local transmission after the first confirmed case. To date, The Bahamas has 14 confirmed cases of the virus.

The government established a Virtual Learning Platform to provide for the continuation of schooling for all students within country from pre-primary through to secondary during the  outbreak.

The site was activated on March 23 with content for all students of all grade levels.

Of those registered, 88 percent attended a government school; 10 percent private school and two percent are home schooled. 

The highest number of students enrolled are in Grade 8  (2,047), followed by Grade 7 (1,997) and pre-primary (1897). 

Meanwhile, Grade 1 had the fewest number of students enrolled with 1,197 students.